DePauw offers a college experience unlike any other, in part because of the first-year mentor program. The idea of having a guide for your first days on campus is foreign to friends of mine at state schools; the fact that something this helpful exists at DePauw is a major selling point. Each year, DePauw brings in a new group of students, and with growing admission numbers comes the need for more First-Year Mentors (FYMs). While becoming a mentor is a daunting task, many have glowing comments about the program. Here’s what mentors had to say about their experience.
Many FYMs agreed that anyone can become a mentor. Spencer Steele, a junior neuroscience major who has been a FYM for two years, says all types of people can be great mentors. “When I was applying, I thought I needed to be super extroverted to be a mentor, but that's not the case at all,” she shared. “The mentor program does a great job of bringing all different kinds of leaders into the position– even quieter ones. There’s definitely a place for all kinds of leaders!”
A fellow two-time FYM, junior Hannah Fields, agrees. She said, “It’s so important to go into the role with an open mind and a willingness to adapt. Every class of first-years is so different from the last, and it’s your job to adapt to meet their needs. Just remember that first-year experience picks their mentors for a reason, it’s important to trust in yourself!”
The driving factor behind becoming a mentor for many is to both build a comfortable community for first years by being a part of the mentor community. “I loved being with my mentor group,” Steele said. “While it is challenging for any first-year to make the transition, my first-year mentor group really helped to ease that. I wanted to help the first years have a good first week as well! It is really special to me that I get to help shape a group of first-years' first few weeks on campus and ease that transition.”
“I think I was inspired by the relationship I saw between the mentors… the community bond became a motivating factor for me to become a mentor and contribute to fostering that same sense of unity and encouragement amongst future mentors and future first-years,” says Fields.
Senior economics major Nick Weyhmueller, a first-time FYM, joined the program for the opposite reason. “My freshman year was the COVID year. My mentor was barely ever on campus, so we had to do a lot. We didn’t get to build that strong bond,” said Weyhmueller. “It’s important to give new students what we didn’t have.”
Ultimately, FYMs are a group of students building the DePauw that they wish they always had.
“I love being able to see my mentees grow and find their places on campus,” Fields said.
“I felt really lost in my first year, honestly my second year too.” Weyhmueller said. “It’s fulfilling to know I can help my mentees get to places I didn’t get to until I was an upperclassman.”
You can only experience your first year of college once. DePauw gives its students the opportunity to have their hand in building the community that they live in, and First-Year Mentors are a huge part of that.